If Only You Had Asked…

As a person in business, how often have you lamented that “if you only had . . . your business would be better off.”

It is rather commonplace for entrepreneurs to lament about needing a better price, a more generous advertising allowance, better early order discounts, a more liberal return policy or payment terms more in line with your sales curve.

And there are the perennial issues such as the need for special makeups, closeouts or other discounted merchandise. And what about special promotions and discounts offered in connection with specific holidays or events such as opening day of fishing and/or hunting season, the day after Thanksgiving, father’s or mother’s day and the like.

There are so many things you would like to have from your merchandise and expense vendors. If you only had . . .! 

The solution can be as simple as, just ask for it! “Nonsense” you say, “I’ve asked so many times and essentially come up with zip.”

My fellow merchants, the rate of success for such requests is often relative to the “how and when” you make your requests. Timing, perspective and presentation will greatly improve your chances of obtaining vendor cooperation.

For example, it you ask a vendor for a better price for certain merchandise, the vendor is likely to point out that you are already getting their lowest price for said inventory. End of discussion.

By comparison, if you state that you want to feature the vendor’s products in a special promotion and that you will highlight and promote that product line with the thought of enjoying a substantial increase in business, then it is most likely the vendor will want to be a part of such promotional efforts.

It’s important that you communicate to the vendor that both you and the vendor will reap substantially increased sales because of shared efforts and margin reductions. 

And if the vendor says, “Sorry, but I just can’t do it” you might reply, “Sure you can, let me show you how.” If you think this is all just words and make believe, trust me, I’ve negotiated vendor pricing specials, free goods, advertising cost sharing, point of sale merchandising aids and all manner of vendor concessions in the pursuit of promotional sales.

Will it work 100% of the time? No, but it will work 75% of the time and that will translate into a lot of incremental sales, margins and loyal customers. This same concept will translate into savings from expense vendors. Want a lower price, better payment terms, or any other aspect of purchasing expense items . . . then just ask for it.

And if your vendor says, “can’t do it,” you say, “let’s get creative and find a way for you and me to both get what we need and to increase our mutual businesses.”

In the course of my business career, I obtained millions of dollars of cost reductions from merchandise and expense vendors. But I always made sure that these same vendors also received a concomitant benefit from me in the way of increased business. 

It was a pillar of my operational code and it almost always brought the vendor back saying, “I hope you are going to promote again with me next year!”